The soaring oratory and piercing words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech highlighted the observance of King’s birthday at the MLK Memorial Plaza in Brownwood Monday morning.
Brownwood Mayor Pro Tem Draco Miller asked audience members that included local officials, community leaders and representatives of Revitalizing Our Community— which organized the annual observance — to listen to King’s words as a recording of the civil rights leader’s speech was played on a sound system.
King gave the speech on Aug. 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. during the the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
The observance on a cool, breezy and sunny morning began with the playing of the National Anthem by Brownwood High School band members and a song by Gene Galloway. Minister Harold Hogan introduced local officials as well as the Rev. Mark Towns, pastor of First Baptist Church in Brownwood, who said a prayer.
Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes spoke briefly, saying he thinks King “would be proud that we have leaders who are interested in our community and are pushing for change.”
Hogan then called Miller to the microphone, and Miller described King as “a great man, a man who stood for equality, a man who stood for peace, tranquility for all. Our lives begin the day we become solid about things that matter.
“Dr. Martin Luther King was a very strong man. Dr. Martin Luther King changed the course of history. He was a man of our time like Moses was in his day. For God used him mighty to pave a better way for a peaceful existence between blacks and whites.”
Miller continued, “Though it cost his life, his death wasn’t in vain. For he helped change the course of history.”
King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which lasted about 16 minutes, was played in its entirety.
“If that didn’t touch every last one of us out here, we’ve got a problem,” Miller said after the speech ended. “That man laid his life down, as you just heard, for freedom for all. Not just black, not just white, but for every human race that is on this earth today.
“Right here in Brownwood Texas, we need to take that torch and move it forward. And if anybody stands against freedom and (for) racism, we need to take that charge and say we won’t stand for it in our city. We will not stand for that. We are united as we are here.”
Hogan urged listeners to “continue today to carry this legacy. Let’s let’s let every day be a day of unity and love.”
Hogan asked audience members to join hands and called Sareta Spratt-Delgado to the microphone for a closing prayer.
“We’re not done,” Spratt-Delgado said. “The dream isn’t over. We have students here that probably never ever heard that speech before. And if you heard it for the first time, that’s history. Take it to heart.”